Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Must Read - ASMP's Professional Business Practices in Photography

If you're looking for a resource for information on the business of photography, this book must be on your bookshelf. I've had several previous editions, and now the 7th is out, and available for pre-order. The last one - ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography: Sixth Edition, was published on September 1st, 2001. We all know, A LOT has changed - in fact, the world changed just 10 days later. This edition - the 7th, will rock your world, right now - guaranteed.

So - hit this link: ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography, 7th Edition and go get it!

If you're an ASMP member, check your e-mail, or log-in to the ASMP website members area for a special discount code to get it from the publisher at a discount, and get it from the publisher direct - ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography, 7th Edition.

So, why, you might be wondering, would *I* promote another book on the subject of business practices for photographers?

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It's simple - I want you to have as much knowledge on the subject as possible. Am I concerned that you might buy this book instead of mine? Not at all. First, my book lists for just under $30, and on Amazon it's just under $20. This book lists for the same price, and I'd guess that Amazon's price will be somewhere around mine. If, combined, you don't have about $50 to spend getting your business practices in order, then you're not thinking straight. You'll easily earn that pittance of an expense back within two weeks of having spent the dough.

On Amazon, my book frequently gets paired with Michael Grecco's book,and Joe McNally's book,as well as Dick Weisgrau's book,and others. Nothing would be better than if this book, and mine, got that pairing.

Natch - it is!

Here's what ASMP wrote about the book:
This classic guide is the ultimate source on key business practices and industry standards from the foremost authority in professional photography.

From standard practices in stock and assignment photography to special one-time decisions such as acquiring a digital workstation, this “business bible” provides the latest answers to any legal or business question an aspiring or professional photographer can ask.

With in-depth chapters, over two dozen industry experts offer practical guidance on such topics as estimating prices, formalizing agreements, using electronic technology, and much more. This completely updated Seventh Edition also features dozens of ready-to-copy legal and business forms, helpful checklists, and an extensive cross-media bibliography.
Here's the Table of Contents:


Section 1 Understanding Licensing
Chapter 1 Industry Overview: Understanding Licensing—the Key to Being a Professional Photographer by Susan Carr
Chapter 2 How to Price Professional Photography by Susan Carr
Chapter 3 How to Write a License by Jeff Sedlik
Chapter 4 Selling Your Pricing Structure by Susan Carr
Section 2 Copyright—Protecting your Assets
Chapter 5 Understanding Copyright by Richard Weisgrau and Victor Perlman
Chapter 6 Registering Your Work by Stan Rowin
Chapter 7 Metadata Basics by Judy Herrmann
Chapter 8 Using Metadata is Key to Photographic Professionalism by Ethan Salwen
Chapter 9 Enforcing Copyright: Dissecting the Infringement Case by Nancy Wolff
Chapter 10 Smoking Guns—How to Handle Clients Who Exceed Prior Licenses by Henry W. Jones, III
Chapter 11 Frequently Asked Questions by Stan Rowin
Section 3 Assignment Photography
Chapter 12 The Assignment Photographer by Susan Carr
Chapter 13 Interviews with Assignment Photographers by Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua
Chapter 14 Making Strides with Your Fine Art Career by Amy Blankstein
Chapter 15 Moving into Motion by Ethan Salwen
Chapter 16 Book Publishing by Shannon Wilkinson
Section 4 Stock Photography
Chapter 17 A Brief Explanation of the Business of Stock Photography by Betsy Reid
Chapter 18 Stock Licensing Models by David Sanger and Betsy Reid
Chapter 19 Editorial + Commercial Stock: Worlds Apart by Rivaldo Does
Chapter 20 Stock Contracts: Look Before Your Leap by Robert Rathe
Chapter 21 Going Portal: Clearing Defi ning Stock Photography Portals by Ethan Salwen
Chapter 22 Interviews with Stock Photographers by Leslie Burns-Dell’Aqcua
Section 5 Paperwork
Chapter 23 Why These Forms are Critical to Your Business by Richard Weisgrau and Victor Perlman
Chapter 24 Sample Forms—Estimate, Confirmation, Change Order, Delivery Memo, Invoice, Indemnification
Chapter 25 Terms and Conditions for Your Business Paperwork by Richard Weisgrau and Victor Perlman
Chapter 26 Smooth Sailing: Avoiding Business Conflicts by Jay Asquini
Section 6 Releases
Chapter 27 Why You Need Releases
Chapter 28 What’s In a Release
Chapter 29 Property Releases
Chapter 30 Special Considerations for the 21st Century
Chapter 31 Trademarks
Chapter 32 Ideas For Getting Signatures
Chapter 33 Frequently Asked Questions About Releases
Chapter 34 Sample Releases
Chapter 35 Your Professional Team: Attorney, Accountant, Estate Planner and Insurance Agent by Alan Rabinowitz
Chapter 36 Preserving Your Visual Legacy: Estate Planning for Photographers by Aaron D. Schlindler
Chapter 37 ASMP Prosurance by Scott Taylor
Chapter 38 Is Your Assistant an Independent Contractor or an Employee? by Mark Tucker
Chapter 39 Guidelines for Assistants by Pamela Kruzic
Section 8 Digital Business Essentials
Chapter 40 Digital Asset Management by Peter Krogh
Chapter 41 Universal Photographic Digital Imaging Guidelines
Chapter 42 Digital Technicians by Ethan Salwen

Section 9 Marketing
Chapter 43 7 Steps to an Effective (and Doable) Marketing Plan by Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua
Chapter 44 Websites by Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua
Chapter 45 Website Success Case Study by Blake Discher
Chapter 46 Website Usability Considerations by Blake Discher
Chapter 47 Art Directors Voice Their Do’s and Don’ts by Elyse Weissberg
Chapter 48 Reps and Marketing Assistants and Consultants, Oh My! by Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua
Chapter 49 Reinventing Yourself by Elyse Weissberg
Section 10 Negotiating
Chapter 50 Negotiating Principles by Michal Heron and David MacTavish
Chapter 51 Negotiating the Assignment Deal by Richard Weisgrau
Chapter 52 Negotiating Quick Tips and Telephone Cheat Sheet by Blake Discher
Section 11 Customer Service
Chapter 53 Working WITH Clients by Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua
Chapter 54 Turning Projects into Relationships: Give Them an Experience by Leslie Burns-Dell’Acqua
Section 12 Managing Change
Chapter 55 Value Your Work: An Educated Photographer Is Your Best Competition by Emily Vickers
Chapter 56 The Sky is Falling, Grab Your Camera by Judy Herrmann

So, what's stopping you? Go - hit this link: ASMP Professional Business Practices in Photography, 7th Edition and get it! I did - the second I read the e-mail.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

OrphanWorks Being Held - For Now

According to this statement by Sen. Leahy, his beloved OrphanWorks bill "is being stalled from Senate passage by an anonymous Republican hold." It is believed that the hold was placed by Sen. Sam Brownback, not so much because of his love for photographers' rights, but because of his interest in "assuring fair rights and rules across platforms", as Senator Leahy put it.

Ironic, in-fact, maybe approaching pathetic, that Sen. Leahy would write "I anticipate that this hearing will move us closer to considering legislation that ensures artists are compensated fairly when their work is performed, regardless of the platform over which the performance takes place", when, while he's speaking about musicians in that statement, artists - in the form of photographers - will be denied fair compensation when their work is performed (i.e. published) under the guise of it being an orphan, despite the various platforms that will use them.

This should not delay you, as ASMP urged, to contact your Senator. ASMP has provided a sample letter here, and contact information here. The APA too has urged you to take action - and you can use their resouces to contact your Senators - BOTH OF THEM - immediately. Visit here for that information. Go now.

This session's version of the bill is on it's death bed, and Sen. Leahy has called in the paramedics and he himself is charging the paddles now to try to revive his malformed work of art. Do the right thing and assist in pulling the plug by building a groundswell of oposition from other Senators to this bill.

(Comments, if any, after the Jump)

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

PDN/Billboard Photo Contest - Fair Terms

We were critical of PDN for their recent contest terms (No Confidence Vote for the PDN/NGS Contest, 1/28/08), which were explained away as just boilerplate text that someone wrote, and weren't thinking, and which they fixed. Well, thankfully, the attention that those terms recieved ensured that this contest they have ongoing now (and one can only hope - future contests), will have better terms for the submitting photographers that are much more inline with what they actually need.

Here are the terms:

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By participating, ALL ENTRANTS grant Sponsors and their designees, licensees and affiliates (the "Authorized Parties") a non-exclusive, worldwide license, through December 31, 2008, to post the entries online so that viewers may view all competing entries. In addition, each WINNER grants to the Authorized Parties a license for use of his/her winning entry in connection with The Summer Music Moment Photo Contest and promotion of The Summer Music Moment Photo Contest, in any media now or hereafter known, including but not limited to: publication in PDN and/or Billboard magazines showcasing the winners; The Summer Music Moment Photo Contest live gallery; the Summer Music Moment Photo Contest Web site ( and on and; and in exhibits and promotions related to the Summer Music Moment Photo Contest. The license is a non-exclusive, worldwide, 24 months (beginning the date winners are notified) license to reproduce, distribute, display and create derivative works of the entries. Authorized Parties will not be required to pay any additional consideration or seek any additional approval in connection with such use.
Now that's a reasonable request. Thank you to PDN and Billboard for being responsive to the concerns outlined by others (and here) about a photo-centric publication having terms that are fair to photographers!

Here's the one challenge, and it's not PDN or Billboard's fault - it's a fact of life, and the rights of those being photographed. The contest (appropriately so) requires photographers to have releases from the subjects in the photos. So, good luck submitting the images you made covering Van Halen's reunion tour, or any other major act. I've heard it can be done, but it's a major hurdle that you'll have to surmount. Here's the language:
If the photograph contains any material or elements that are not owned by the entrant and/or which are subject to the rights of third parties, and/or if any persons appear in the photograph, the entrant is responsible for obtaining, prior to submission of the photograph, any and all releases and consents necessary to permit the exhibition and use of the photograph in the manner set forth in these Official Rules without additional compensation. If any persons appearing in any photograph is a minor in their state/province/territory of residence the signature of a parent or legal guardian is required on each release.
That means that you'll have to talk to Billy Rae Cyrus if you have photos from Miley's concert you're looking to submit, since she's a minor.

Folks, this is a commercial use by PDN/Billboard, and appropriately so, releases have to be in hand for their use. Good luck entrants. For more details on the contest, check out: Summer Music Moment - About the Contest.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Royalty-Free's Decline, and Jupiter Images' Demise

Paul Melcher's blog - Thoughts of a Bohemian -Jupiter is Not Responding, talks about the decline in the Royalty-Free market:

Without significant numbers, it is hard to figure out why Jupiter is having such a hard time. Guess is that they are suffering from the same effect as Getty Images : a declining rights manage market, a suffering traditional RF demand, and a microstock division not covering for the losses.
And that got me to thinking that it might be time to dust-off an old perspective that needs to be re-visited.
(Continued after the Jump)

Simply put - if you need a photograph of a man waving a flag with fireworks behind him, and I sell it to you for one time, or a limited rights package, when you need it again, you'll pay me again - and likely pass that expense on to the client. If, instead, I sell it to you once, for an unlimted amount of time and uses, I only get paid that once (and often a fraction of the charge of the first time) and you can use it forever - still likely to pass the "standard rights-managed charge" to the client - obstensively for "access to your image library" (of RF images.)

What flunkie accountant didn't see that this well would eventually run dry? Lots of up-front one-time CD sales for $249 with 100 images, organized by theme - all you can eat/use. There's no back-end resales of those images to that client - ever.

In the quest for Wall Street appeasement, Getty rolled-up many smaller companies, and slashed and burned their way through the industry. Jupiter Images (Nasdaq: JUPM) has watched a similar fate appear. Meckler points to the chart below (a 68% decline in 6 months, and heck, a year ago it was $8.14, now it's down to $1.20), and it sure looks like Getty's chart:

Should we be surprised? Nope.

Fortunately, things can begin anew, without the Gettys and Jupiters of the world (in their current form), once they're gone. The images of people using cell phones will become dated, so too people with cars, hairstyles, clothing styles, and other things that make a photo look old. When was the last time a stock image of a CRT television was used? In a few short years, the image to show was a flat-screen TV, and with the 2009 shift to digital by the broadcasters, CRT televisions are done and gone for - so to images that include them. A Motorola flip-phone? So 90's!

August 7th, when much of New York is vacationing in the Hamptons, Jupiter will have their 2Q financial results (MarketWatch reports here), and Meckler suggests they're reveal there a slashing of upwards of 100 employees. When you run into once of these employees, remind them that the historical excuse for why they were attempting to devalue the business by selling microstock/Royalty-Free - "I was just doing my job", or "I was just following orders", just doesn't excuse their behavior.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

BusinessWeak - Amateur vs. Pros?

I've written about BusinessWeek before ( Diversification and A Variety of Clients, 2/11/07), and usually in more positive terms. A piece datelined July 28, 2008 - Cheap Photo Sites Pit Amateurs Vs. Pros - sub-titled "Graphic design and photography pros are scrambling to stay viable as barriers to entry fall and stock agencies buy from hobbyists", misses it's mark in several places.

When author John Tozzi writes:

Affordable digital cameras and desktop design software unlocked the tools of these trades, but the dilemma isn't unique to visual professionals.
He misses an important point. Unlocking the "tools of these trades" is like handing a pipe wrench from aisle 3, or a voltmeter from aisle 18 of your local Home Depot to a weekend warrior, and then calling those Jacks a plumber and an electrician. Fortunately, because their work runs the risk of flooding a basement, or burning down a house and killing someone, both fields have licensing requirements for them to practice their trade, and the sides of their vehicles read "Licensed, Bonded, and Insured."
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Where's the license to call yourself a photographer? We should consider the idea (most recently) put forth by New York State, that wedding photographers obtain a license to do their jobs, and put up a $5,000 bond. (Proposal here).

Then the article goes on to suggest:
The line separating professionals from dabblers blurred a little more on July 8, when leading stock photo agency Getty Images partnered with photo-sharing site Flickr (YHOO) to bring select Flickr users into the Getty collection.
No, that's not quite right either. The line that separates professionals and dabblers wasn't blurred, the professional business of Getty Images sought to sell (i.e. monetize) the images of these dabblers. The dabblers aren't all of a sudden (even slightly more) professionals, a professional business is now looking to sell the works of "select Flickr users".

Instead, it might have been said "The largest stock photography business in the world sought to pick the best images from the dabblers who upload their images to Flickr, allowing Getty Images to round out their library with images they don't have sufficient holdings of, and incorporate images that are already ready to be licensed, and who's producers are not as knowledgeable about what their images are worth."

Then the article just doesn't get it, when they write:
So how much do the new Web offerings really hurt these pros? Defenders argue they've created a new market at a lower price range for customers who never would have paid the fees professional designers or traditional photo agencies charge. "The great thing that we see in the emergence of microstock is that it's significantly expanding the pool of people paying for imagery," says Getty Chief Operating Officer Nick Evans-Lombe.
Nor does Getty get it. Yes, I agree that a person working on a term paper will now be able to incorporate a photo for $1 that they might not have. But gone is the inquiry "is this for a term paper, or an annual report?" This contemplating that the production of the term paper takes the image producers photograph and it benefits one person, and for the annual report, that image benefits tens of thousands (or millions) of people. If I could be certain to a significant degree that my images priced at $1 (maybe $5?) would only go to term papers, and in a family scrap book because they just couldn't find a postcard (or take their own photo) to memorialize how they remembered a location they visited, and my image did that for them, I might just consider that license - provided that I didn't have to make any of my own effort to affect the transaction.

Evans-Lombe is just missing the point here. If there were 100 people licensing images before, and now there's 1,000 because the per-image price has dropped from an average of $200 to an average of $1, those additional 1,000 people won't make up for the lost revenue from the 100 people from before. In fact, stories about about photo buyers who are buying those $1 images and charging the same to their end client as before - pocketing a difference that is rightfully due the photographer.

Here's where the article really starts to go downhill in it's credibility (no, it hadn't hit rock-bottom yet) - they cite Derek Powazek, who identifies himself as "designer, photographer, and CEO of Pixish". All Powazek has to do is add Ms. Daisy's driver, Beatnik, and rabble-rouser to his list of things he "is", and I think he's got a double trifecta. Maybe though, it depends on the meaning of what "is" is?

We previously wrote about Pixish (Pixish - Stupid Is, As Stupid Does, 2/12/08), and the article notes that "Powazek argues that the people posting jobs on his site, who generally offer rewards of $100 or less...", but did the author bother to check some of the silly "job" postings? Powazek himself offered:
"Fray's Geek Issue - Winners will be published in Fray issue 2. Winners will get a few copies of the book, credit and promotion on the website, and our eternal thanks."
ETERNAL THANKS? But wait - it gets more laughable. Another request from Powazek -
A Leaf in the River Tattoo - The Details - I want your work on my body - I will paypal the winner $100 and email them a photo of their work on my arm upon completion.
Other "rewards" we highlighted
"The winner will get a hearty pat on the back"; and then there's "The prize is priceless: My love and admiration. ... But really, do prizes and goodies drive your craft? Are you in this game because you love to see a grown man smile?"; or try this one - "You'll bring serenity, hope and joy to people who really need it. Isn't it great?"
No, actually, it's not great, Derek. Yet no doubt, Dereks' venture capitalists will be pleased to see their little gem (my VC friends, that's CZ you're admiring, not a FL/4Ct/D/Trillion you've spotted) cited in BusinessWeek. Yet, Pixish will be a part of the roadkill of Web 2.0. Bet on it.

Then, on a (supposedly) hopeful note, they cite PhotoShelter (yes friends, an advertiser here on the blog)
"One company positioning itself as a photographer-friendly alternative to microstock sites with its PhotoShelter site is Bitshelter."
Yet after citing it, they are more than happy to find the photographer who hasn't made a sale, " San Francisco freelancer Lane Hartwell said she never made a sale on PhotoShelter, nor had any colleagues she knew of."

Yet, Hartwell's site shows she has 98 images (search results here) on her personal site, and just FORTY-TWO available for sale/licensing on the PhotoShelter site she's complaining about (see graphic). but of course She has 24 of Barack Obama (here), 14 of Ted Kennedy (here), and FOUR random others (here). The search of ALL of her images can be seen here.

Apparently, Hartwell could well find herself a Flickr/Getty Images photographer? Or, perhaps not. This Wired Article (Why Lane Hartwell Popped the 'Bubble' Video, 12/14/07), refers to her as "A constant chronicler of the local technology and art scenes, she's about as "wired" as a photographer could be, documenting everything from colorful geek parties to the annual Burning Man festival."

The article starts "When one of Lane Hartwell's photographs showed up without her permission in a popular viral video, she wasn't flattered. She was frustrated... she switched her Flickr account to private, pulling most of her 5,000 images out of public view.", because prior to that "A magazine plucked an image from her Flickr account, and many websites have stolen her images"
, and "Gutting her public Flickr account was a simple act of self-protection, said Hartwell."

I will say this though, in defense of Hartwelll, when the article suggests "She admits some people react like she's a "crazy cat lady" when she stands up for her right to protect her works, an unpopular stance in certain online circles", I say go get more cats. Go get more crazy. But she'll have to have a lot more than 42 cats up for sale to generate revenue from PhotoShelter, so complaining when you have that few isn't a valid complaint - especially for subjects so over-photographed as Obama and Kennedy! Worse, why didn't the BusinessWeek reporter ask her questions like "how many photos do you have up for sale?" That would seem like an obvious question to ask.

Grover Sanschagrin, Co-Founder and VP of Business Development of PhotoShelter notes, "if people expect to sell images like crazy and take business away from Getty, they're gonna have to whole-heartedly participate in the movement that displaces them. Photographers who stand on the sidelines with a 'wait-and-see' mindset have no right to complain about the state of the industry."

Sounds to me like somebody's got some keywording, captioning, and uploading to do, post-haste.

Dan Heller, who's blog (Dan Heller's Photography Business Blog) has gone dormant since mid-May, noted at the end of the piece "Selling yourself is not selling your photos," Heller says. "You can't say, 'My images are worth a premium,' but you can say, 'I am worth a premium.' " Well said, Dan.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Evaluating A Memory Upgrade

I was talking recently with Eric Chan, of Adobe, who’s one of the Adobe guru’s on Camera Raw. Since we use Camera Raw to convert all our camera’s proprietary Raw files into the DNG open format (created by Adobe and given to the world) , for many many reasons (see here and here for several why), and I asked him about Camera Raw’s memory usage, and optimizing for that.

I asked Eric what the optimal memory would be for my G5 Quad 2.5. I was considering switching to a faster machine, but first wanted to know about optimizing my current system, and improving speeds and throughput, if possible.

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I told Eric that my Quad had just 2GB of ram in it, and he suggested I upgrade to 8GB, if possible. He said that much more than that, he thought, wouldn’t do much more for me.

Currently, my machine can process a raw file into DNG in 7.45 seconds, fresh restart, only Photoshop running. I ordered my memory (yes, SimpleTech), and paid $292 for the additional memory. When the chips arrived, we installed them, ran a memory test, and re-processed the exact same files the exact same way. The results? 3.28 seconds per image – a reduction per image of 4.17 seconds per image.

So I did some calculating. You should too.

Remember those high school match questions that went something along the lines of:
“a train traveling 65 miles per hour leaves Albuquerque headed to Abilene non-stop, and a train traveling 80 miles per hour leaves Abilene headed to Albuquerque, and the trip is 487 miles, at what point will they meet?

Extra Credit: what is the closest city they will meet in?”
Here’s where that type of math plays out in your real life.

Assuming you’re paying $20 an hour for a post-production person, and that person can process an image in 7.45 seconds per image. By spending $292, you can increase that person’s productivity by 4.17 seconds per image. How many images much you produce before you can break even on the memory expense?

Show your work.
$20 = 60 minutes = 3,600 seconds, or $0.0055 paid per second. (That’s 6-tenth’s of a cent per second.)

Current Configuration: 7.45 seconds per image – staffing costs - $0.041 cents per image processed. (that’s 4.1 cents per image processed.)

New Configuration: 3.28 seconds per image – staffing costs - $0.018 cents per image processed (that’s $1.8 cents per image processed.)

Savings: 4.17 seconds per image, staffing costs savings - $.023 cents per image (that’s 2.3 cents per image.)

Next, divide the price paid for the memory - $292, by $0.023, and you arrive at 12,696 images.

Answer: By spending $292 on a memory upgrade, the cost of that upgrade is covered by a more productive post-production person after just 12,696 images.
For Extra Credit:
If I shoot an average of 4 assignments a week, with a range of between 200 and 400 images per assignment, approximately how long before I arrive at that cost savings?

Show your work.
4 assignments a week averages 300 images per assignment, or 1,200 images per week.

Answer: By the eleventh week, the cost savings will be realized. Since a common calculation for businesses to make is to determine if an investment in plant or equipment will pay off in 18 months of less, this investment, which pays off in under 3 months was an obvious investment to make.
Now, look at your CPU speed - is it a dual G5? A Single G5? For you PC users out there - check your own speeds too. These type of investments can really pay off. Here's Apple's calculator to see if you should upgrade: Apple Mac Productivity Calculator. When you go to that calculator, the number you'll need to know is how many images you process in a day (on average is fine), and the amount of time each image takes to process on your current machine, in seconds. Once you have these figures, multiply them, and divide by 60, to get the number of minutes each day you spend waiting around. For example, waiting 7.45 seconds per image, processing 1,000 images a day, is 124 minutes spent waiting around. Choosing the G5 Quad, Adobe Photoshop, entering in 124 minutes into the "Estimated time you wait while using the above application (minutes/day)" line, and then entering in $20/hour, and 1 workstation, results a savings each month of $164.92, and annually, a savings of $1979.09. Very interesting, indeed.

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